Catfacing On Tomatoes – Learn How To Prevent It


If you’ve ever grown tomatoes in your garden or purchased them from a local market, you may have come across a peculiar condition called “catfacing.” This cosmetic issue affects the appearance of tomatoes, causing them to develop unusual indentations, scars, and distorted shapes. In this article, we’ll explore what catfacing is, the causes behind it, and most importantly, how you can prevent it from occurring. So, let’s dive in!

What is Catfacing?

Catfacing is a common tomato condition characterized by irregular scarring, indentations, and contorted shapes on the fruit’s surface. When a tomato is affected by catfacing, it may exhibit deep grooves, rough patches, or even deep holes. These deformities can vary in severity, ranging from minor surface blemishes to more pronounced disfigurement.

How to Prevent Catfacing:

Preventing catfacing requires a combination of careful planning and appropriate cultivation practices. While it’s challenging to completely eliminate the risk, following these preventive measures can significantly reduce the occurrence of catfacing:

Choose Resistant Varieties: Some tomato varieties are less prone to catfacing. Look for those labeled as “catface-resistant” or “smooth-skinned” when selecting seeds or transplants. These varieties have been bred specifically to minimize the likelihood of catfacing.

Optimal Planting Time: Plant your tomatoes after the soil has warmed up adequately and all chances of frost have passed. Cold temperatures during flowering and fruit setting can increase the risk of catfacing.

Adequate Soil Preparation: Prior to planting, ensure that the soil is well-drained, rich in organic matter, and properly balanced in nutrients. Conduct a soil test to determine any necessary amendments and follow the recommendations provided.

Consistent Watering: Maintain regular and consistent watering practices to keep the soil moisture levels stable. Fluctuating moisture levels can contribute to catfacing. However, avoid excessive watering, as it can lead to other issues like cracking or splitting.

Mulching: Cover the tomato plant base with organic mulch like straw or wood chips. Mulching helps conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and prevent fluctuations that may contribute to catfacing.

Controlled Fertilization: Avoid excessive use of nitrogen-rich fertilizers, especially during the early growth stages. High nitrogen levels can result in rapid vegetative growth, increasing the risk of catfacing.

source: Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,

Should I Remove Catfacing Tomatoes?

Catfacing is primarily a cosmetic issue and does not affect the taste or nutritional value of tomatoes. If the catfacing is minor and the fruit is otherwise healthy, it is safe to consume the tomatoes. However, if the deformities are severe, causing the fruit to become unappealing or difficult to use, you may choose to remove those specific tomatoes.

What Causes Catfacing in Tomatoes?

Catfacing is typically caused by environmental factors that affect the development of tomato flowers and fruits. Some common causes include:

Temperature Fluctuations: Exposure to cold temperatures during flowering and fruit setting stages can disrupt the natural growth processes and result in catfacing.

Hormonal Imbalances: Environmental stressors, such as excessive heat or inadequate pollination, can disrupt hormonal balances in the plant, leading to irregular fruit development.

Excessive Moisture: Overwatering or inconsistent watering practices can cause cells to expand and contract rapidly, resulting in irregular fruit growth.

Genetic Factors: Certain tomato varieties are more prone to catfacing due to their genetic makeup. Choosing resistant varieties can help minimize the risk.

source: Gerald Holmes, Strawberry Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo,

Can You Eat Tomatoes with Catfacing?

Yes, you can safely eat tomatoes affected by catfacing. As mentioned earlier, catfacing is a cosmetic issue that does not affect the taste, nutritional value, or safety of the fruit. Simply cut away the affected areas, and the remaining portions of the tomato are perfectly edible.

Catfacing may alter the appearance of tomatoes, but it does not diminish their taste or quality. By implementing preventive measures like selecting resistant varieties, optimal planting, adequate soil preparation, consistent watering, and controlled fertilization, you can significantly reduce the incidence of catfacing. Remember, even if catfacing occurs, you can still enjoy delicious and nutritious tomatoes by removing the affected areas. Happy tomato growing and savoring!